Robert Kuttner

Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, a professor at Brandeis University's Heller School, and a distinguished senior fellow of the think tank Demos. He was a longtime columnist for Business Week and continues to write columns in The Boston Globe. He is the author of Obama's Challenge and other books.

Recent Articles

The Populist Imperative

B y all accounts, we are entering a month of great national deliberation. In the main arena, the most serious foreign-policy debate since Vietnam is unfolding, with senior members of the president's own party among those articulating the most serious qualms. It's almost what the Constitution's framers had in mind: a great debate, conducted through congressional hearings, before America goes to war -- and in this case a debate seemingly forced upon the president by public opinion. This is all but unprecedented. Prior to World War II, there was an agonizing debate over whether to re-arm and whether to aid the beleaguered British. But an actual shooting war was abruptly thrust upon us only with Pearl Harbor. During Vietnam, Sen. J. William Fulbright's famous hearings came well after Lyndon Johnson's trumped-up war escalation and his commitment of American ground troops. What will this new great debate actually be like? Will James Baker and Brent Scowcroft be called? Will they be candid...

Containment Contentment:

S addam Hussein's latest offer to readmit weapons inspectors is both a strategic gain and a political setback for the Bush administration. Iraq's apparent concession also reminds us that the basic principle of international politics is that even odious regimes get to stay in power as long as they leave their neighbors alone. Better to contain Saddam than to risk wider war, and the UN plan may yet accomplish that. Why both a gain and a loss for President Bush? Saddam's new offer is the direct result of Bush's strong UN speech and the administration's strong diplomacy, coupled with the efforts of allies and the UN secretary general. This concession would not have happened without Bush going to the brink of war. Until Bush seriously threatened an invasion, most UN members and the institution itself tolerated the status quo. Doves should admit what a dismal status quo it was. After invading Kuwait and then being clobbered on the battlefield, Iraq agreed to a truce that included a...

Comment: Revolting Elites

B y all accounts, we are entering a month of great national deliberation. In the main arena, the most serious foreign-policy debate since Vietnam is unfolding, with senior members of the president's own party among those articulating the most serious qualms. It's almost what the Constitution's framers had in mind: a great debate, conducted through congressional hearings, before America goes to war -- and in this case a debate seemingly forced upon the president by public opinion. This is all but unprecedented. Prior to World War II, there was an agonizing debate over whether to re-arm and whether to aid the beleaguered British. But an actual shooting war was abruptly thrust upon us only with Pearl Harbor. During Vietnam, Sen. J. William Fulbright's famous hearings came well after Lyndon Johnson's trumped-up war escalation and his commitment of American ground troops. What will this new great debate actually be like? Will James Baker and Brent Scowcroft be called? Will they be candid...

The Politics of Going to War

P resident Bush is marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks by drumming up support for his next war. Yet except for the fact that both enemies are radical Arabs rooted in different parts of the Middle East, the two conflicts have little in common. Indeed, the administration has lately abandoned its efforts to link Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda. Nearly all Americans supported President Bush's war to remove al-Qaeda from power in Afghanistan. But which of us imagined that a year later we would be on the verge of another wholly unrelated war? Bush initially declared that the final decision on Iraq would be his alone. But because of qualms expressed by allies and by senior members of his own and his father's administrations, Bush will take his case to the United Nations tomorrow and then to Congress. Only days ago the administration was dismissing the idea of one last effort to get Iraq to admit weapons inspectors. And top officials were truculently insisting that the United States...

The Republican Con Game

W ith the economy softening and corporate scandals continuing to unfold, November's elections should spell good news for the opposition party. But Democrats are making only marginal headway. One reason is that Republicans have gotten so good at stealing the atmospherics of Democratic themes (though rarely the substance). Master Republican strategist Karl Rove, the chief White House political adviser, has encouraged GOP candidates to blur partisan differences, especially where Democrats have the more popular position. Also, a lot of the issues are fairly complex. So if a Republican candidate insists that she, too, favors a crackdown on corporate crooks, or legislation to safeguard pensions, or a prescription drug program, few voters have the attention span to pursue the details. Republicans are also running away from positions they've espoused in the past, such as privatization of Social Security (which no longer looks like a political winner in a falling stock market). For example, in...

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